Company news in brief

08 February 2019 | Business

Total makes significant discovery offshore SA

French oil and gas major Total said it had made a significant gas condensate discovery after drilling its Brulpadda prospects on Block 11B/12B in the Outeniqua Basin, offshore South Africa.

Total said the Brulpadda well encountered 57 meters of net gas condensate pay in Lower Cretaceous reservoirs. The well was deepened to a final depth of 3 633 meters and has also been successful.

"With this discovery, Total has opened a new world-class gas and oil play and is well positioned to test several follow-on prospects on the same block," Total's senior vice president for exploration Kevin McLachlan said in a statement.

Brulpadda is one of several highly anticipated exploration prospects for the year. Total has said the field could hold between 500 million to over 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

Following the success of Brulpadda and confirmation of its potential, Total and its partners plan to acquire 3D seismic this year, followed by up to four exploration wells on the license, the company said. – Nampa/Reuters

ArcelorMittal sees slight steel demand pick-up

ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, yesterday forecast a slight expansion of global steel demand in 2019 after a healthy market drove its earnings to their highest level in a decade last year.

The company said it expected world steel demand to grow by between 0.5 and 1% this year after an increase of 2.8% in 2018.

Demand, it said, would improve in all regions except China, the world's biggest producer and consumer of steel, where ArcelorMittal has a minimal presence.

The most rapidly expanding market would again be Brazil, with a 3.5-4.5% growth this year from 7.3% in 2018. Steel demand in ArcelorMittal's main markets, Europe and the United States, would grow by respectively 0.5-1.0% and 0.5-1.5%, lower than last year.

The company, which skipped shareholder payouts in 2015 and 2016, doubled its proposed dividend to US$0.20 per share, more than the average US$0.12 forecast in a Reuters poll. – Nampa/Reuters

BNP Paribas cuts targets, costs

BNP Paribas on Wednesday reduced its profit target for 2020 and said it planned to cut 350 million euros in costs from its corporate and investment bank after weak financial markets hit revenues in the final quarter of 2018.

France's largest listed bank now expects a return on equity of 9.5% in 2020, down from a prior target of above 10%. The bank also cut its revenue growth target to 1.5% per year between 2016 and 2020, from 2.5% previously.

The downgrades came after revenue fell 1.5% in 2018 to 42.52 billion euros (US$48.5 billion), dragged down by a 40% plunge in revenues at the bank's global markets business. This business made a loss of 225 million euros, marking its first quarterly loss since the 2008 financial crisis.

Yann Gerardin, BNP Paribas' head of corporate and investment banking, said the fourth quarter was a low point for the division, but the business would remain under pressure.

The bank's plans for 350 million euros in cost cuts come on top of 500 million euros in cuts already announced three years ago. – Nampa/Reuters

Thomas Cook puts airline business up for sale

Travel group Thomas Cook said yesterday it was willing to sell its airline business to raise cash and help it recover from a rough 2018 and weaker demand in 2019.

The company said it was launching a strategic review as it needed more resources and financial flexibility after two profit warnings in quick succession late last year.

"We are at an early stage in this review process which will consider all options to enhance value to shareholders and intensify our strategic focus," chief executive Peter Fankhauser said in a statement.

The oldest travel company in the world, Thomas Cook was hurt by a heatwave that gripped northern Europe last year and deterred holiday makers from booking lucrative last minute deals. That led the company to cut its profit forecast twice in two months in the second half of last year.

Thomas Cook said it had made progress in managing its cost base but that bookings for this summer reflected consumer uncertainty, especially in Britain. In the first-quarter trading update, it said it would not change its outlook for the full-year.

Jeweller Pandora plans cost cuts

Jewellery maker Pandora, struggling to regain its competitive edge in a weak retail market, plans to make cost savings of 1.2 billion crowns as it faces a drop in organic revenue growth of between 3 and 7% this year.

The Danish charm-bracelet maker, currently looking for a new chief executive, has been challenged by a fall in the number of shoppers visiting malls in its key markets, while new jewellery lines have failed to entice shoppers.

The firm has been without a chief executive since ousting Anders Colding Friis following a first profit warning in August last year. Schwartz and newly appointed chief financial officer Anders Boyer are running the business for now.

Sales this year would be negatively impacted by a decision to reduce promotional activities, the company said. Pandora's 2019 EBIT margin is seen at 26-28%, excluding restructuring costs of up to 1.5 billion crowns.

Fourth-quarter EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) fell almost 8% from the same period the previous year to 2.8 billion Danish crowns, but were above the 2.5 billion expected by analysts in a Reuters poll. – Nampa/Reuters

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